Seminar Series: New Approaches to Monitoring Complex Agricultural Market Systems

Meeting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will require adapting complex global and local human systems. International development practitioners require tools to understand and monitor these systems, but existing tools tend to be too high-level or too narrowly focused.

This webinar presents an approach to complex systems based on system mapping and measurement, which was developed for agricultural market systems with USAID. We illustrate the approach through an application to agricultural financing in Uganda. Watch this seminar to learn how to use system mapping to understand the dynamics and monitor the health of complex agricultural market systems in low-resource contexts, identify barriers to progress and leverage points that can drive sustainable change.

E4C’s Seminar Series features academic laboratories researching solutions to meet the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. The world’s cutting edge research deserves a platform with a global audience. Join us for presentations of new findings from investigative teams around the globe each month. And researchers, we welcome your applications to take part in the series. Please send an email to


Dr. Erica Gralla is an Associate Professor of Engineering Management and Systems Engineering at the George Washington University. She completed her Ph.D. at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the Engineering Systems Division and her B.S.E. at Princeton University in Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering. She studies decision-making in real-world contexts, to develop knowledge and tools for better decisions in the design and operation of complex systems. She draws on methods from systems engineering and supply chain and operations management. Recent application areas include disaster response, international development, and spacecraft and facility design.


Dr. Jesse Austin-Breneman is an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Michigan. He earned his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering in 2014 from MIT. He also holds a S.M. in Mechanical Engineering from MIT and a B.S. in Ocean Engineering also from MIT. Previous to his academic career, he worked as a development engineer in Peru, working with rural communities on alternative business opportunities and with local doctors’ groups on medical device development. He also spent two years as a high school mathematics teacher in Boston, MA.

He currently is the director of the Global Design Laboratory. The group focuses on developing design processes and support tools to help multi-disciplinary design teams think at a systems-level when performing complex system design tasks. This includes investigating the best way to incorporate system-level interactions between stakeholders in emerging markets into the design decision-making process.


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